Monday, January 17, 2011

MLK Day, the slow fight for progress

It would be very fitting and very cliché to quote Martin Luther King, Jr. right here on MLK Day. I've never been a huge fan of quotes in general to be honest. But I am a big fan of MLK so I wanted to take a minute this morning to post a blog before I go to work.

(Yes, I work on MLK Day. Unlike the majority of you. Yeah, I'm jealous.)

On the radio this weekend I heard some interesting facts about MLK Day that I had never realized before.

Did you realize...

that MLK joins only two other historic figures who have U.S. federal holidays in their honor? (Anyone know the other two of the top of their head?)

that Hiroshima in Japan and Toronto in Canada both observe MLK Day?

that Ronald Reagan signed the holiday into law in 1983 (15 years after MLK's assassination) but it wasn't until the year 2000 that all 50 states officially observed the 3rd Monday of January as MLK Day?

that Republican Senator John McCain originally voted against the holiday? (He eventually reversed his opinion)

What really strikes me is the resistance the holiday faced shortly after it's creation. I guess it just serves to remind me that the progression of civil rights moves at a snail's pace sometimes. From the overturning of Proposition 8 to the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell and the ongoing struggle to combat discrimination in the workplace and the more subtle racism in people's minds and attitudes, each step toward equality requires a fight.

MLK taught us that the fight for civil rights does not require violence but it does require people to stand up and speak out against inequality and to work against injustice. He says it a lot better...

Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.

Dang it, I guess one of his quotes made it in here after all...

No comments: